EL RENO, Okla. - While most students make relationships in the classroom, these teens are finding friends at the stables.
“I like it because it's fun,” Heath said.
Heath, 12, has been a student with Savannah Station for five years.
“He really has progressed a long way from he was really shy at first around horses and now he'll get off the horse and hug them every day,” Glenn Miller, Heath's uncle, said.
It seems to be a common response for this therapeutic riding program, designed especially for children with special needs.
“They're taking control both of their body and of the horse, which is very empowering,” Executive Director of Savannah Station Andi Holland said.
And for a child who has never walked, it's a rare experience.
“For our kids with less mobility who are having to use a wheelchair as an aid, it's the only time they get to feel the sensation of walking,” Holland said.
Savannah Station has 34 students that visit each week. Twenty of those are from El Reno Public Schools as part of a partnership, and each one of these classes is free of charge.
“We have families that come from as far as Weatherford, Mustang, Norman because this is the only therapeutic riding center west of the metro,” Holland said.
Those families are hoping to see some of the same miracles the employees here see all the time.
“We have nonverbal kids who are now talking and most of the time, they start talking to the horse," Holland said.
A peaceful place where kids and gentle giants meet face-to-face.
“You see the hand of God and who wouldn't be touched by these little faces?” she said.
They're hoping to raise 30% of their budget at their "Galloping for Hope" fundraiser April 5 at The Palace Event Center in El Reno.
For more information, visit https://www.savannahstation.org/